Gold Cup betting tips and preview for the feature race on day 4 of the Cheltenham Festival 2014 at 3.20pm.
The Cheltenham Gold Cup is the ultimate national hunt racing contest which provides, year on year, some of the greatest racing of the season. Last year’s contest went the way of the resilient and battle-hardened Bobs Worth, a horse who returns to defend his crown. Plenty are in opposition to make sure that doesn't happen. Here are my thoughts and tips on the feature race of the entire Festival.
The market favourite is, unsurprisingly, the reigning champion – Bobs Worth (2/1 Betfred). A thorough stayer, this horse has the heart of a lion and stormed up the Cheltenham hill to victory after being outpaced coming into the final few furlongs. He beat the likes of Sir Des Champs and Long Run, in the end comfortably, to establish himself as a true champion chaser. This season has been a little more hit and miss. After disappointing in his reappearance run in the Betfair Chase, he bounced back to form and claimed the Lexus Chase under his typical dogged and determined fashion. His fantastic unbeaten record at Prestbury Park is particularly appealing and providing he arrives, fit, well and in form, he should put in a bold bid to regain his title.
Second in the market is SILVINIACO CONTI (7/2 Coral), this Paul Nicholls’ runner was travelling (arguably) best of all when falling three out in last year’s race and returns to Cheltenham looking for redemption. He started his season admirably, finishing third in the Betfair Chase, only being beaten Dynaste and Cue Card. He came on no end for that run and won the King George VI chase at Kempton on Boxing Day very impressively, outstaying and reversing form with Cue Card. Generally a sound jumper, this horse relishes soft ground (most of his victories have come on that surface) however does also have strong form on good ground (11 length victory in the Mildway Novices’ Chase in 2012). Once again partnered by Noel Fehily, providing there are no ill effects from the fall 12 months ago, Silviniaco Conti looks the horse likeliest to trouble the favourite for the victory.
Gigginstown Stud are presented by two runners in this contest, Last Instalment (8/1 bet365) and First Lieutenant (12/1 BetVictor). The former has had a slightly disappointing finish, failing to win any of his four chases that he has contested. He is held by both Bobs Worth and his stablemate on why he has shown this year. The latter came back from a serious injury in 2012 to record an admirable third place finish before going on to win the Irish Hennessy in emphatic fashion by over eight lengths. He beat his stablemate and both Lord Windermere (33/1 William Hill) and Lyreen Legend (50/1 BetVictor), all three repose today. The main issue with this horse is his supposed preference for ground with cut in it. Connections stated at the start of the week that he would be withdrawn if the ground came up too firm and with the track not having been watered overnight the ground is definitely a concern.
Not only does Nicky Henderson field Bobs Worth but he also has Triolo D’Alene (14/1 Stan James) in the race. An impressive winner of the British Hennessy, this horse loves good ground and has been kept at home after his victory at Newbury due to the unsatisfactory state of the ground. He put in a bold jumping performance and looked to have plenty left when beating Rocky Creek by over two lengths. Certainly an interesting runner at double figure prices but has some 22lbs to find with his stablemate and should struggle to find that.
Of the others, the admirable The Giant Bolster (16/1 Stan James) returns for yet another year after having finished 4th and 2nd in the last two renewals of the race. Cheltenham certainly seems to spark this horse to life and whilst it would be difficult to see him winning the race, he is sure to run well again.
The reminder of the field should struggle at this level and many will be relying on the main contenders faltering and being there to take advantage if they do so.
In my mind this race centres around two horses – Bobs Worth and SILVINIACO CONTI. Undoubtedly the former will be a difficult horse to beat given the manner in which he won the race last season and his overall unbeaten victory at Cheltenham. However, Bobs Worth tends to come off the bridle quite early on in his races and has to be coaxed along and worked on from a very early stage. Like last year, I expect the Paul Nicholls’ horse to be travelling best off all the field when swinging into the home straight, and if he is able to kick on entered the home straight he may well give Bobs Worth just a bit too much to do. It is a little worrying that Nicholls hasn’t had a winner at the Festival as of yet but that could all change with Silviniaco Conti.
SILVINIACO CONTI (WIN) (7/2 Coral)
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